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Synagogue guest house showed no sign of cracks, defects before collapse – expert tells court

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A Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere has been told by a witness, Architect Dayo Olatunbosun Fabiyi that the guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations
(SCOAN) was in general good condition with no deflections before its collapse.

Fabiyi told the court that there were no cracks, deflection or any defect noticed on the building the last time it was checked before it collapsed.

The Lagos State Government had sued the SCOAN over the collapsed building that killed 116 worshipers of the Church, on Sept. 12, 2014.

The defendants are two Engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, charged alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd.

They are facing trial on an 110-count charge of involuntary manslaughter while the Registered Trustees of SCOAN were charged with one-count charge of building without approval.

The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions accused the defendants of violating Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State, 2010 as well as Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

They were arraigned on April 19, 2016 but they pleaded not guilty.

At the resumption of proceedings, the witness who said he bagged Bsc in Architecture and masters in Environmental design, informed the court presided by Justice Latest Lawal-Akapo that he had been a volunteer worker at SCOAN Maintenance Department since February 2014.

While being led in evidence by one of the defence counsels, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), Fabiyi stated that as a mantainance personnel in SCOAN: “I usually carried out my duties on Tuesdays and Fridays and I go round the facilities to check the general conditions of the buildings so as to be sure everything was in order.

“We often spent over an hour during the routine checks and September 14, 2014 was the last day we carried out a check on the building before the incident.”

However, during cross-examination by the State’s prosecutor, Dr. Jide Martins, he affirmed that he was not involved in the investigation of the beams of the collapsed building. He however maintained that cracks and deflections are always visible to the eyes.

Fabiyi agreed that he did not use any mechanical devises to check for defections during his maintenance.

During re-examination by the first defendant’s counsel, Diyan Oluseye, the witness told the court that it is not only civil engineers that could notice cracks on a building.
He also noted that mechanical devices are only used to investigate deflections after the building has already collapsed not before.

“The building must show signs that it’s been stressed or weak before it collapses but SCOAN building did not show any signs of stress,” he said.

A fifth defense witness, Engr. Ebenezer Ologuntoye, on Thursday while been cross-examined by the Lagos State Prosecutor, Dr Babajide Martins told an Igbosere High Court, Lagos that apart from foundational failure, other factors could be responsible for a building collapse.

It would be recalled that on March 21 during the witness (Ologuntoye’s) evidence-in-chief, he narrated that scientific test conducted on the foundation of the collapsed building indicated that the foundation of the building and the bearing capacity were adequate.

The witness who said he was involved in the Mile 12/Ikorodu Road project, though he was not directly contracted by Lagos State Government disclosed that : “as a civil engineer, apart from foundational failure, other factors can be responsible for the collapse of a building”.

In answering more questions from the prosecutor, he said that he was never contracted by the church to do any geotechnical work before the collapse.

While been reexamined by Mr Diyan Oluseye, the witness said while carrying out investigations on the collapsed building, he took some samples necessary for the investigation.

The samples enabled him to write reports on his findings which he has already submitted to the court.

“From my investigation the building did not collapse due to foundational failure”.

Another defense lawyer, Mr Efe Akpofure (SAN), reexamined the witness.

Ologuntoye answered that the Lagos State Government had once invited him to give report in the case of a collapsed building involving Lekki-Gardens.

The witness affirmed that it was because he was experienced that made the government to invite him to work in such high profile case.

The sixth defense witness, Mr Olusegun Jimoh was called and was led in evidence by another defense counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN).

Jimoh said he was the head of data unit in the Nigeria Metrological Agency in Abuja.

The witness told the court that he was subpeonaed to court to present the certified true copy of the maximum and minimum atomspheric temperatures collated over time in Lagos State.

“We have a data processing unit which we use in sending such data to clients who requested for it.

“In this case the data was sent by hard copy and the data sent covered the maximum and minimum temperatures of each month from January to December of 2004 to 2018 in Lagos,” Jimoh said.

He was however cross examined by the prosecutor, also re examined by Akpofure, and the witness said “it is from our office that media houses get all the weather forecast announced on television stations in Nigeria”.